More than 270 people in Shellharbour last night saw the region's top tourism businesses recognised by their peers.
Among the winners at this year's South Coast Tourism Awards were the Bodalla Dairy Shed, Eden's Cat Balou Cruises, Mogo Zoo, Silos Estate and the Original Gold Rush Colony.
The Narooma Oyster Festival meanwhile won a Silver Award and members of the Narooma Chamber of Commerce and Tourism were on hand to accept the prize.
As the premier tourism event on the South Coast, the awards highlighted all the hard work that has been done by the thousands of tourism businesses from Helensburgh to Eden along the South Coast of NSW.
Diane Johnston, acting chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation, said she was thrilled by the standard of entries received for the awards.
"Over twice the number entered in 2013 this year over last year," she said.
"All the companies that entered and made it to being a finalist are the best tourism businesses on the South Coast of NSW. The winners and all the place-getters are the best of the best."
Judges chairman Ken Merrifield, Chairman said all entrants had been rigorously inspected and their submissions assessed.
"The standard was exceptionally high and the judges’ task was made difficult in picking the winners. In many categories the Judges decided to award Silver and Bronze as well as there was very little margin between entrants.”
Executive Officer of the South Coast Tourism Organisation Tom Phillips said tourism contributed $2 billion a year to the South Coast economy and employed more than 21,000 people.
"These Tourism Awards allow the best of our tourism industry to show off what they can do and to demonstrate to the world at large that the tourism product here on the South Coast of NSW is second to none."
The winners of each category are:
1. Adventure Tourism – Skydive the Beach, Wollongong.
2. Heritage and Cultural Tourism – The Original Gold Rush Colony, Mogo.
3. Ecotourism – Cat Balou Cruises, Eden
4. Tourist Attractions – Mogo Zoo, Mogo
5. Tourism Restaurants – The Sebel Harbourside, Blue Diamond Bar and Bistro, Kiama
6. Tourism Cafes – Bodalla Dairy Shed, Bodalla
7. Regional Winery, Brewery or Pub – Silos Estate, Berry
8. Marketing and Promotion – Destination Wollongong, Wollongong
9. Visitor Information Centres – Shoalhaven Visitors Centre, Nowra
10. Tour and/or Transport Operators – Dolphin Watch Cruises, Huskisson
11. Registered Clubs – The Shellharbour Club, Shellharbour
12. Meetings, Functions and Business Tourism – Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, Wollongong
13. Event or Festival – Wings Over Illawarra, Shellharbour
14. General Tourism Service or Product – Tathra Beach and Bike, Tathra
15. Tourism Retailing – The Treat Factory, Berry
16. New Tourism Development – Destination Mollymook Milton Ulladulla
17. Accommodation – Budget Accommodation – Anchor Bay Motel, Greenwell Point
18. Accommodation – Executive Accommodation – The Sebel Harbourside, Kiama
19. Accommodation – Self Catering and Serviced Apartments – Seaview View Beach House, Bermagui
20. Accommodation – Holiday Letting – The Beach House Sanctuary Point, Sanctuary Point
21. Accommodation – Holiday Letting Services - South Coast Holidays, Gerringong
22. Hosted Accommodation – Mollymook Beach Waterfront, Mollymook
23. Tourist and Caravan Parks up to 3 ½ AAA rating – Swan Lake Tourist Village, Swan Lake
24. Tourist and Caravan Parks 4 AAA Rating and above. – Merimbula Beach NRMA Holiday Park, Merimbula
25. Unique Accommodation- Barrengarry Boutique Farm Cottages, Kangaroo Valley
26. Family Friendly Award – Daisycare Nanny Agency, Bomaderry
27. Tourism Small Business Operator – Swan lake Tourist Village, Swan Lake
28. Outstanding Contribution to South Coast Tourism by an Individual – Matt Cross, Huskisson Chairs Award
The Chair’s Award is an award that is given at the sole discretion of the Chair of the South Coast Regional Tourism Organisation. It recognises outstanding contribution to the Tourism Industry of the South Coast of NSW over a very long period. It has only ever been awarded twice before in the 17 year history of the Tourism Awards.
This year Diane Johnston presented the Chair’s Award to Rob Pollock OAM of Potato Point.
She said Rob had been one of the driving forces behind the industry, devoting 26 years to South Coast Regional Tourism. For the last 15 years he was Chairman of the Organisation, seeing it implement million dollar marketing campaigns and being the leading Regional Tourism Organisation in NSW.
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